Disclaimer: I am only speaking my truths based on my experience. Everybody's journey is different. I honor where I am in my journey as I do you in your journey!
One of my main goals with becoming vegan was to lose weight. I began this journey in a totally shallow place (only because I hadn't delved into exactly all that veganism had to offer my life. I still haven't learned EVERYTHING, it's a marathon, not a sprint). I didn't know anything but that I wanted to get back down to my high school weight, stop having to go to the doctor for dumb shit (when I say dumb, I mean things that I can control and are not worth the co-pay), and just feel better about myself.
When I first began this journey, I did indeed lose some weight. However, it wasn't a significant amount. See, even though I was eating better, I was still eating vegan junk food ("gluten free" cookies, soy filled meat substitutes, LOTS of bread, and the like). After all, this was the beginning of my journey, I didn't know any better. After a while, I plateaued. I had lost about 10 pounds which was great, but my goal was to lose about 30-40 pounds at the time and there was no weight naturally coming off anymore at this point.
At this time I was in the first year of my graduate program and working at the local YMCA. With this job I had the option to use any YMCA gym for the free-free. But do you really think my lazy ass was trying to workout?! HELL NO! I was still overweight and with all that wagon I was draggin', I did not wish to sling it around somebody's gym. I knew what I needed to do, I just didn't want to do it. Simple as that.
One day I ran across an instagram post that read something like "It can be day one or one day...you choose". I instantly became convicted. You know every now and then you have one of those 'GOD must be tryin' to tell me something' moments, well this was it for me. I started with running the indoor track after my shift at work. I would wear yoga pants with my YMCA shirt and complete no more than 4 laps around the track. Then one day during one of my long, uneventful Saturday shifts, I picked up a YMCA schedule. I was under the impression that we could only use the gym equipment, not actually take part in classes that the YMCA offered. While looking at the group workout schedule, one of my oh-so-annoying-yet-so-sweet co-workers informed that I could indeed partake in classes. Once I learned this, IT WAS ON!
I researched the YMCA that was closer to where I was living at the time, which was Doraville, Georgia. I found a class that would work with my school and work schedule; a 7a.m. bootcamp that met up on Monday's, Wednesday's, and Friday's.
My first day there, I thought "WTF". It was so many old people and even the instructor was an older woman. There were a mixture of retirees, housewives, and a few students (myself included) waiting around for the class to get started. The students in the class were the only reason I stayed. I was talking cash shit in my head thinking that this was going to be a waste of my time.
I was DEAD ASS WRONG. That instructor, however old she was, whooped my ass. I couldn't believe how out of shape I was and how in shape all these old people were. I was honestly ashamed. So ashamed that I decided to stick with the bootcamp. I went to the gym what seemed like everyday. On Monday's, Wednesday's, and Friday's I went to the bootcamp and I'd choose either Tuesday's or Thursday's to do an independent workout. This is when I saw the most significant results. I had to have dropped 15-20 pounds in the matter of 5 months. I started getting looks and compliments and the kid was feeling herself. Unfortunately, my first year of Grad school had come to an end and it was time to me to get a real job. That meant my week would be filled with work-work, not work-outs.
As you can imagine, even with my vegan lifestyle getting more 'vegan' (this was when I changed out my soap and traded in lotions for shea butter, my diet becoming more strict. You know, all that good stuff), I began to slowly gain some of that weight back. I tried the local L.A. Fitness. I tried the local park. I even tried just running around my new neighborhood, but nothing worked. I just couldn't commit. So I justified in my mind that I would be ok with just eating as healthy as I can. But, my waistline did not get the memo. My denial lasted for an entire year. Now it was summertime and I didn't look cute in any of my summer thot-wear. I knew what I had to do. I went back to going to the local gym. They had yoga classes; something that I didn't have to work too hard at and I could say I was working out. But it wasn't enough...
I wasn't seeing any results outside of more flexibility and new ways to calm my mind down. Don't get me wrong, these things were and are extremely essential. Especially with the summer I had been having. My king and I were on the outs something serious and it was fucking with my mental, so getting into yoga was definitely necessary, but I needed the pounds off!
Then mid-summer, my homegirl Gabby (she always comes through with the come through!) invited me to an early morning workout at a place called E.F.F.E.C.T. Fitness. The first thing that I fell in love with was that it was literally all black people and mostly women in the makeshift gym. See when I was at the Y, you can imagine these housewives and retirees were not of my color or and many not of my kind. Nothing wrong with 'diversity', but being at E.F.F.E.C.T. and seeing all these beautiful black women working toward the same goal; building together, was truly a beautiful experience. It was like me stepping on Spelman's campus all over again (If you didn't know, yes I am an alum of the illustrious Spelman College). Now don't get me wrong, even with all of this beauty percolating around me, the workout was intense to say the VERY least. I got that shameful feeling again. And just like before, that feeling motivated me to commit to visiting E.F.F.E.C.T. Fitness more frequently and consistently. I have been visiting E.F.F.E.C.T. Fitness ever since (2 years strong!). Along with steady workouts, a strict vegan diet, and frequent fasting I have been able to maintain a weight that I am comfortable with and that is healthy for my body and life.
All that to say, YES, veganism is one of the best decisions of my life, but I wasn't going to get the best results from this choice if I didn't work it out! Because I have grown in my journey and come to appreciate the necessity of physical training, I can say going to E.F.F.E.C.T. consistently does something for my spirit; it helps me with believing in the physical, mental, and spiritual work I am doing for my life.
What works for me may not work for you. You can't get around physical workouts unless you're Teyana Taylor, but even she dances her ass off so (Kanye Shrug). I'd say to get started, find out what you are interested in. I like a balance; a little yoga to calm my nerves and some intense ass workouts to work off the aggression from life. I also like group workouts so that I can be motivated by others around me to continue to persevere when the workout circuit becomes a little too intense. Whatever your thing is; group workouts, individual workouts, home workouts, or gym workouts - start there. From there, build a schedule that is realistic and that you can commit to and always, give thanks to The Most High for giving you the unction to begin this journey!